Sounds That Fill The Air

I don't know about you, but in my town there is a variety of insitutionalized sounds that fill the air at various times of the day.

First there is the morning chime that comes ringing into the world at 7 am: a bing-bong rendition of Beethoven's Fur Elize. Done in loudspeaker belltones, it loses some of its magic.

Then there is the Prison Break siren that goes off at noon every day. So, do people not wear watches around here? I guess if you're plowing a rice field on a noisy tractor and you don't want to miss lunch back at the farmhouse, then the siren might come in handy. To this day, I have fantasies of hacking into the yakuba P.A. system and splicing-in the power chords of 'Smoke On The Water'.

At 6 pm, we are treated to the lovely lullaby of the Japanese children's song, Yuyake Koyake at rediculously loud decibel levels. Again a beautiful tune, but after hearing it 700 times I must say I've lost my taste for it. I can't imagine hearing it EVERY DAY for the span of a lifetime. And heaven help you if you're near the yakuba loudspeaker at showtime, because it could rattle you right off your mama chari if youre not holding on tight enough. Seriously, if they turned the volume down halfway it would still be waaaay too loud.

But the most heinously invasive of the Town Sounds are the Sunday morning announcements, preceded by four annoying tones, blaring into my bedroom thru my apartment's nori-thin walls at 8:00 in the freakin' morning.

I guess these are some of the unique details you probably won't find when you look up 'Japan' on or read novels by Clavell. These are the things that, more times than not, fly under the radar so to speak - often un-glamorous things - which make each of our first-hand experiences in Japan more real than any second-hand account... not to mention, noisy as hell.